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Posts Tagged ‘France

It’s July and France puts on two great public events then, Bastille Day parades and the Tour de France

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There is something majestic about the kind of military parades that France puts on every Bastille Day. It seems to me that only the Russians put on similar military events with lots of troops on foot, on horseback, in military vehicles and in planes. Here is a glimpse at the parade this year with a view of the Arche de Triomphe in the background:

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2011/07/17 at 02:26

How and why I’ve been telling my life story here and elsewhere!

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António Damásio, Portuguese neuroscientist.
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I like Antonio Damasio‘s thoughts about our brain and our behaviors influenced by the working of our brain, or brains!

Here is what I read by him on the Big Think web site:

we do not give the same amount of emotional significance to every event.

For some 45 years of my life I felt little emotional significance coming from my experience in Spain, France and then Canada when I was a babe in arms until I was 10 or so. It was as if I had not experienced anything but I did have nightmares and often.

And yes I remember being a fearful little boy, bigger boy and teenager. But since my birth family believed that we had to move on and not dwell on less beneficial history, I never had nor asked for, the chance to recover, consider and put behind me the frights that I lived through especially in France from September 1939 until we arrived in Canada in July 1940. I guess you could say that I had almost 12 months of little boy hell with my birth family during our prolonged “escape” during the Fall of France.

As I understand it from pieces of family recollections, my mother and my siblings lived in and around Verneuil-s-Avre about 160 kms south east of Paris during most of that time.

It must have been a reasonably quiet place until refugees from Belgium, Luxemberg and the north of France began trickling through starting around May 10, 1940 and then stampeding through after May 18 to the south and west of France chased by the German panzer tanks, infantry storm troops and terror bombing by Stuka aircraft.

But let me go back to what Damasio says about the amount of significance I must have put on those experiences, especially when my nanny, Pensa Gomez, left us to live with the Wanamaker family in France. To this day, I can’t hear some music without tears welling in my eyes. In my case that’s got nothing to do with John Boehner‘s supposed emotional outburst talking about how much he has done to protect and recover the American Dream. But I guess each of us has a right to our own significance!

Later in his discussion Damasio says that we tend to go on and change or reconstruct the narrative we tell about our life. Depending on other pleasureable or unpleasant events in our life. For myself, I cam late to the telling of the narrative of my life. I didn’t really begin until I was 65 or so.

From 4 to 65 is a long time to have left my narrative untold and unremembered. But I finally got here and now I feel better for having told my narrative, even if the first 5 years worth are mostly reconstructions from bits and pieces from my older brother, random family records and photos. At least I know what I looked like at about 8 or 9 months in Barcelona and then in Montreal and in the Pyrenees when I was 2 and after that when I was 4 in Paris in 1939.

I’ve just had a thought that I regret because I thought that I had put this stuff behind me insofar as my father was concerned. But I had another thought, and maybe Damasio is right in this way, about resenting my father’s placing more importance with his Bank and employees in France and not enough on me in my plight of feeling repeated losses too early in my short life till then. There I’ ve said it “I resent what my father did to overstay in France and Spain” just to satisfy his own interests and those of the Bank!

I will come back to this tomorrow or the days after!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/12 at 00:26

I always like to think that my tastes are eclectic enough to post about KK and Vermeer

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So here is a snipped image from the Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

To be honest I can’t tell which image pleases me more, KK en nudite or this one well clothed and quite demur! Both images are pleasent to me. The Vermeer has a definite cache because it is a recognized classic. But KK on the W cover is a classic in its own right and time!

Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665), considered a...
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/08 at 04:49

I have posted a few times about Paris’ famed Boulevard!

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Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elys...
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But this is a new kind of scenery for the fabled Champs Elysees snipped from the NY Times pre-paywall.

A bucolic scene in the middle of Paris!

This is the venue for the usual July 14 national military celebration march of military forces and vehicles. Whatta a contrast!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/05/23 at 13:28

Confraternisation de militants anarchistes et d’agents de la Guardia Civil

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Confraternisation de militants anarchistes et d’agends de la Guardia Civil

Originally uploaded by rue89video

This photo is part of a recently revealed archive of photos of conflict and fraternizing between opposing fighters during the early part of the Spanish Civil war in Barcelona.

I probably l had just gotten out, or was about to get out, of Barcelona by way of a car convoy to Andorra, on the Franco-Spanish border in the High Pyrenees with my mother, siblings and nanny, Pensa Gomez.

It’s amazing how bits and pieces from that time in Spain and Europe that touch ever so slightly on my own living experiences then continue to filter out. It’s only through the ubiquity of information on the Web that I can get this stuff. The Web has helped me put together more of my own story in Barcelona in 1936 and France in 1939-40.

Image by Getty Images via Daylife
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/12/06 at 09:23

France and China know how to put on dramatic public celebrations

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Of course it helps a lot when a dramatic background is the centerpiece, like Les Champs- Elysées.

Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2009/07/14 at 09:43

At this late stage of my life here on this wracked and wrenched Earth

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Assorted wine corks

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there are a few things I dearly love. In one case I haven’t been to one much lately since there are no affordable ones in Vancouver, the French bistro with its characteristic walnut finishings and great red wine. The other is the NY Times.

Both of these artifacts of civility and my version of the good life are suffering. Both are losing business at alarming rates and both institutions are in peril of becoming non-existent and that saddens me in anticipating their real life demise.

As for the bistro in France, click here to read the NY Times piece about that sad situation with a closing of 2 of them every during these financially troubled times. Over 80% of the 200,000 of them that did business in 1960 have disappeared since.

The NY Times does not report much about the financial situation of the holding company or its main newspaper holdings, but the news in the blogosphere and in other news agencies is especially sad. The Grey Lady faces financial burnout by the middle of next year. It has ended dividend payouts and has apparently been shopping some of its media assets to gain cash for financial survival. What the H will I do if she disappears too!

This is not a pretty sight and I truly regret that all those Wall Street jerks and downright thieves have brought us to this unpretty pass! No doubt I’ll survive but some essence of the good life will be drained from my spirit. How much of that kind of loss will I be able to deal with before I decide that it’s enough? But I have no plans for an online suicide ever!

City of Vancouver

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/11/23 at 05:14

Ben Weider, businessman, bodybuilder and Napoleon scholar, dies age 85

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Equestrian statue of Napoleon at Cherbourg

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He was best known as founder and owner of a global enterprise involved in body building that made Ahhnold S famous.

He was also founder and long time president of the International Napoleonic Society. Here is a part of his obituary from the Globe and Mail (Mop and Pail):

Mr. Weider also applied his powers of persuasion to get the French to revise their thinking about one of their most revered figures, Napoleon. Mr. Weider, regarded as a Napoleonic scholar, posited that Napoleon had been poisoned by one of his own countrymen rather than dying of stomach cancer as was widely believed.

He spent three decades trying to prove his theory. Instead of responding with outrage, France bestowed upon Mr. Weider its highest tribute, the Legion of Honour. His 1982 book, The Murder of Napoleon, co-authored with David Hapgood, became a bestseller and sold in 45 languages.

In a poignant twist, Mr. Weider will miss a moment in his hometown’s spotlight. This Thursday at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, he was to attend the unveiling of a priceless collection of rare Napoleon artifacts, including the emperor’s signature bicorn hat, that Mr. Weider donated from his personal collection. They will be on display free in the museum’s permanent collection.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/10/20 at 07:48

The other day my blog was viewed by 304. Today my blog was hit by 413+ individual viewers

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Roger Federer of Switzer...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The other day it was a post about the sale of the most expensive private property that got most viewers. La Leopolda, that is in Villefranche on France’s Mediterranean coast, sold for somewhere in the $750 million USD by one Lily Safra, a rather wealthy widow to Roman Abromavich, a Russian petrobillionaire.

Today my post about Roger Federer’s win of an Olympic Gold medal along with his partner, Wawrinka, got the attention of 175+ blog viewers to push my blog’s daily viewership to the best ever.

Thx to my viewers!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/08/18 at 15:13

Evacuations in 1940 from Dunkirk, Le Havre, Cherbourg, St-Nazaire, Arcachon, Bayonne and St-Jean-de-Luz

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Dunkirk rescued French troops disembarking in ...
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Whenever authors deal with the evacuation of military and civilians from the west coast of France in 1940,  99% of the time Dunkirk is the only action mentioned.

In fact, Operation Dynamo, the code name for the Dunkirk evacuation, carried about 340,000 Allied force members back to England. It ended on June 4. During that evacuation, civilian shipping losses were described as “heavy” while the Royal and French navies lost about 13 destroyers and the RAF lost about 145 planes.

But the battle continued in France until all hostilities ended on June 25. From June 10 until the 25th a series of evacuations from many French ports, from Le Havre in the northwest to St-Jean de Luz in the southwest managed to carry another 215,000 military personnel, diplomats and civilians back to Britain.

Here are details of these actions from Royal Navy archives available on the Web:

The Battle for France begins on the June 5th with a German advance south from the line River Somme to Sedan.

10th – The evacuation of British and Allied forces from the rest of France got underway. Starting with Operation ‘Cycle’, 11,000 were lifted off from the Channel port of Le Havre.

14th – The German army entered Paris.

15th – Operation ‘Aerial’ began with the evacuation of Cherbourg and continued for the next 10 days, moving south right down to the Franco-Spanish border.

17th – The only major loss during the evacuation from western France was off St Nazaire. Liner “Lancastriawas bombed and sunk with the death of nearly 3,000 men.

17th – The French Government of Marshal Petain requested armistice terms from Germany and Italy.

22ndFRANCE capitulated and the Franco-German surrender document was signed. Its provisions included German occupation of the Channel and Biscay coasts and demilitarisation of the French fleet under Axis control.

25th – The Allied evacuation of France ended with a further 215,000 servicemen and civilians saved, but Operations ‘Aerial’ and ‘Cycle’ never captured the public’s imagination like the ‘miracle’ of Dunkirk.

25th – On the final day of the evacuation, Canadian destroyer “FRASER” was rammed and sunk by AA cruiser “Calcutta” off the Gironde Estuary leading into Bordeaux.

British troops evacuating Dunkirk's beaches
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Fortunately for me, my father, mother, 3 siblings and I were caught up in this last minute evacuation from Nazi controlled France in June 1940.

I have no verifiable family records of that hasty exodus, but family anecdotes mentioned leaving by beach, Bayonne and the Royal Navy.

I can write a fictional account but there is little doubt that when my family left the shores of southwestern France we were part of a remnant. My father’s way of doing things would have guaranteed that. But we were all happy enough to get away at the last minute, even if somewhat later than would have been preferred by my mother, of course!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2008/07/28 at 09:50